The Chassidus of Mister Rogers

Pop Chassid note:  Shoshana Zohari, an awesome blogger over at Sustainable Jewish Schooling has graciously submitted this beautiful guest post.  As many of you know, I’ve recently been raving about Mr Rogers, and I’m very happy to have a post about him here.  Enjoy.

Just a few days ago I received an unexpected gift from Yahoo. Streaming across my morning screen was a little blurb about Mister Rogers: “Mister Rogers remixed by Symphony of Science’s John D. Boswell for PBS Digital Studios.” I instantly wondered what a “remix” of Mister Rogers could be, so I clicked the link. What a pleasure to see one of my oldest and dearest friends smiling out at me from the computer monitor. As a young child, hardly a day went by without a visit to Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

My father passed away when I was seven years old. My mother quickly went back to school and worked very hard to earn a degree and find a job to support two young daughters. But that job also meant a lot of time on my own at a young age. I made my lunch and walked to school well after my mom had left for work and my older sister had boarded the school bus. But being alone with Mister Rogers streaming love and compassion through the television was a great comfort to me.

So what a thrill it was to be face to face with him early in the morning once again. But this time I’m a grown-up with four kids of my own. My children don’t go off to school in the morning either by foot or on a school-bus. We are happy and dedicated homeschoolers. We are following a path of life-long learning, emotional freedom, and spiritual dedication that is truly transforming our world. After watching the video, it was amazing to me how closely the life’s work and philosophies of Fred Rogers align with our family’s beliefs and actions as chassidic Jews and homeschoolers.

This fact became even more profound for me the next day when I happened on one of Mister Rogers’ books at our favorite independent book seller. The title is Life’s Journeys According to Mister Rogers – Things to Remember Along the Way. Little did I know that the seeds of my future embrace of Chabad chassidus and homeschooling were planted so many years ago by a kind man smiling out at me from an old television. Let me share some of my favorite quotes from this special little book:

“Who we are in the present includes who we were in the past.”

“I realize that it isn’t very fashionable to talk about some things as being holy; nevertheless, if we ever want to rid ourselves of personal and corporate emptiness, brokenness, loneliness, and fear, we will have to allow ourselves room for that which we cannot see, hear, touch, or control.”

“Try to make goodness attractive. That’s one of the toughest assignments you’ll ever be given.”

“One of our chief jobs in life, it seems to me, is to realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is — that each of us has something which no one else has — or ever will have — something inside which is unique to all time.”

“Are you able to believe in a loving presence who desires the best for you and the whole universe? With all of the sadness and destruction, negativity and rage expressed throughout the world, it’s tough not to wonder where the loving presence is. Well, we don’t have to look very far. Deep within each of us is a spark of the divine just waiting to be used to light up a dark place. The only thing is — we have the free choice of using it or not. that’s part of the mysterious truth of who we human beings are.”

“I don’t think anyone can grow unless he’s loved exactly as he is now, appreciated for what he is rather than what he will be.”

These are just a few of the motivations and energies that I hope our children are internalizing as chassidim and as students of the world. In all seriousness, I love to imagine a would-be yechidus between the Rebbe and Mister Rogers. And I hope that both of them would be proud to call my children their posterity.

Enjoy the video below:






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